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Wanborough, Wiltshire


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Wanborough is a village located in north-east Wiltshire, in southern England, about 3 miles south-east of the centre of Swindon. It can be seen near the bottom right corner of the enlarged map of the Swindon area (273,987 bytes), and I have produced a sketch map of the village. It was the home of more than half of my father's ancestors, so far as I have been able to trace them.

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Origin of The Name

There are two theories as to the origins of this name, both showing derivation from original Saxon. The name consists of two parts, "Wan" and "borough". Wan could be from the Saxon word waegn, meaning waggon, or it could be from the Saxon word wenn, meaning tumour. The second part undoubtedly comes from the Saxon word beorg, but this can mean either hill or burial mound. Thus the name as a whole could mean either waggon hill, or place at the tumour shaped mounds (referring to a former nearby round barrow). The original Roman name for Wanborough was Durocornovium (my thanks to Andy James for that piece of information).

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The village is divided into two parts by a steep hill, the parts being known, not surprisingly, as Upper Wanborough and Lower Wanborough, although some old records, such as the 1841 census, refer to them as West Town and East Town respectively. It lies on a Roman road, the Ermin Way or Ermin Street, about one and a half miles north of where that road crosses the even older Ridgeway, and where it crosses that other pre-Roman road the Icknield Way. Upper Wanborough is about 650 feet above sea level (although the parish extends much further south and rises to 800 feet), the further end of Lower Wanborough only about 300 feet. The lowest part of the parish, in the north and north west, was marked on old maps as Wanborough Marsh, with good reason, while the highest, largely uninhabited, area in the south was marked as Wanborough Plain.

Upper Wanborough's location on the Ermin Way was determined, like that of many villages in the area, by the underlying geology. The steep hill mentioned which divides the village into its two parts is a part of the north facing escarpment where the chalk hills covering much of Wessex meet the lower lying, mainly clay, river basins such as the Thames. The chalk is permeable to water, so the hilltops are dry. Where the chalk meets the lower lying, impermeable, clay, there is a line of springs, and that is where villages grew up and where the Icknield Way (an old drovers' road between Wales and Norfolk) runs. There is a long, winding minor road linking a whole series of such villages in this area, including Chiseldon, Badbury, Liddington, Upper Wanborough, Little Hinton (= Hinton Parva), Bishopstone, Idstone, Ashbury and so on almost to Wantage. The map shows them all lying just a mile or two north of the Ridgeway, which runs more or less along the top of the escarpment, where travel in ancient times was so much easier than in the marshy forested valley below.

Possibly a result of the use of these long-distance roads is the presence in Wanborough (past and present) of an unusually large number of inns, hotels and other sellers of alcohol. Many of those there now can be seen on Mike Park's Wanborough page and there are photos of them on my Wanborough Buildings and Views page.

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Wanborough was once much more important than it is today, as well as being larger in area than the present parish. The Romans had a settlement here which was later taken over by the Romano-British. Several major battles are reported to have taken place within the present parish boundaries between these Britons and the invading Saxons. The parish then was about 5 miles north to south and 1.75 miles to 2.5 miles east to west. Later the width was reduced by about a third when Little Hinton became a separate parish. An old book refers to the "Town of Wanborough looking down on little Swindon". Just recently the little village of Wanborough was incorporated into the large, rapidly growing town of Swindon (population approaching 200,000).

An indication of the town's (as it was then) importance is the fact that Wanborough was the most highly taxed fiscal unit in Wiltshire in 1334. A chapel in Wanborough (not the present church) called St. Catherine's Chapel, had 5 resident priests in the 13th century. It was located somewhere in the part of Lower Wanborough known as Wanborough Marsh, which probably gives a clue as to why it was abandoned.

More information about Wanborough's Roman history can be found on the Roman Britain web site.

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Blacksmith ancestors

Forge Cottage, Wanborough
In the days before motorised transport, almost every village had at least one blacksmith's shop. In Wanborough there were two, at least for most, if not all, of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, one each in the Upper and Lower parts of the village. My Fisher ancestors were blacksmiths in Lower Wanborough, not far from the site now occupied by "The Brewers Arms" public house, during the middle part of the 19th century. So far as I know, my uncle who ran that pub with his wife for some years was not aware that he was living close to where his (and my) ancestors had worked at their forge. The old smithy is now a private house called Forge Cottage (see photo left, click on thumbnail for larger image, 60,241 bytes).

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Wanborough buildings and views

I have now set up a separate page of photos of various Wanborough buildings and views of interest, including the parish church and several old picturesque inns. I may add some others when time permits.

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Web pages about Wanborough

Wanborough Parish Council now has an interesting web site. If you look at their history page you may recognise my words in the first paragraph of the History section above in their first paragraph! I'm flattered, not complaining.

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I am indebted to Chris Hinton, on whose book "Wanborough, a Village in All Seasons" I have drawn extensively for historical information. For information on the origins of the name I have drawn on two books, "A Dictionary of English Place-Names" by A.D. Mills and "Wiltshire Place-Names" by Martyn Whittock. The actual words used above, including any errors, are my own.

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Surnames in Wanborough

Surnames index



My surname interests in Wanborough

The following are the surnames of interest to me in this village:

Edward Collier, described as a mason, married Lydia WARREN at Bishopstone in 1815, but they then apparently lived in Wanborough, where their children were baptised. So far as I know, everyone of this name in Wanborough is descended from them and therefore related to and of interest to me.

EDES (& variants)
The only person of this name I have yet found in Wanborough is my distant ancestor Joan Edes, who married Robert Fox here in 1719 and was buried here in 1757. I would especially like to know where she came from.

My Fisher ancestors in Wanborough were, as mentioned above, blacksmiths in Lower Wanborough. The earliest of them was John Fisher, who was born in South Marston in 1788 but married in Wanborough in 1807. Most if not all Fishers in Wanborough after this date are his descendants and so related to and of interest to me, but those here before that are from one or more different families.

There were two separate Fox families in Wanborough as far back as the early 1700s, and I, as well as most or all people of that name in both Wanborough and Chiseldon are descended from one or (as in my case) both of them. Since they both appeared in Wanborough at about the same time, I suspect they were related, but I would very much like to know where they came from. The earliest records are the marriage of Robert to Joan Edes in 1719 and the baptism of John's youngest child in 1716.

Martha Hancock, baptised in Wanborough in 1741, married Richard Fox in 1764. She was the third of five children of John Hancock and Bridget Richens, all baptised in Wanborough between 1738 and 1747. John and Bridget married in Wanborough in 1736. Although there were other Hancocks baptised in Wanborough, almost all before this date, I haven't yet been able to find a link between them and my ancestors.

JEFFERIES (& variants)
John Jefferies, born about 1765, and his wife Martha had three children baptised in Wanborough between 1789 and 1805. The third of these, Elizabeth, married Richard Fox in 1826. I haven't managed to link John with earlier records of the name in Wanborough, but I believe he originated in Broad Hinton, Wilts.

All Warrens in Wanborough, at least up to the mid-1900s, are descended from Thomas Warren and his wife Frances, who had seven children baptised in Wanborough between 1744 and 1757, and are therefore related to me. They married in Aldworth, Berkshire in 1736. He was born in Cookham, Berkshire in 1702, while she was born in East Ilsley, Berkshire in 1715.


Other people researching family or local history in Wanborough

I would be happy to include here details of anyone else who may be researching either their family history in, or the local history of, Wanborough. This can include web site links, email addresses, possibly lists of surnames of interest in the village, and any resources in which you may be willing to do lookups for others (but no commercial advertising). If you would like a mention, please get in touch.

Carol Parker is seeking further information about or relatives of the following former Wanborough residents:

LOVEDAY, Thomas b: 06-01-1636 Wanborough, d: 25-05-1699
HEDGES, Martha b: 1645 d: 26-02-1742 Wanborough, m: 01-10-1665 Wanborough, (4 children)
LOVEDAY, Jonathan b: 28-05-1745 Wanborough, d: 20-06-1832 75yrs Broad Hinton
POCOCK, Francis d: 09-11-1738 Wanborough, (3 Children)
SKEAT, Susanna d: 15-11-1747 Wanborough, m: 02-05-1686 Wanborough

Sheila Tate writes:

Looking for family GRUBB from about 1680 to 1803. Given names are John, Thomas, Mary, William, Henry, Elizabeth, Martha, Richard Moss, Rebecca in some generations. All born in Wanborough. Anyone researching these ancestors?

Jane Martin writes:

One of my ancestors Henry Avenell was also a Blacksmith in Wanborough around the 1740s. His apprentice in 1741 was Charles Pincott son of Thomas Pincott he was paid £2.2.0.

Mark Feodoroff wrote:

Researching these names in Wiltshire and Gloucester:

BRUNSDEN - Chisledon/Wanborough to the mid-late 1700s
HARPER - Wanborough mid-late 1800s
VINES - Wanborough mid 1800s

Graham Sheppard writes:

I am trying to find out if Johnathon SHEPPARD and Mary DUNN (married 13 Nov 1719 Wanborough) were the parents of John SHEPPARD (b. c1720). John married Martha WOOLFORD in Chiseldon 25 May 1741. John and Martha may have been the parents of my 5x ggf David SHEPHARD (b. c1738) but whose birth/baptism has never been found.

Valerie writes:

My ggrandfather was born Wanborough 1838 and my gggrandfather 1806; their names were John and Robert Maslen. John moved on to London but I am not sure what happened to Robert. Robert had 4 children that I know of - did any of them stay in Wanborough? Is it a name still in the village can anyone tell me? I would be grateful for any info you have. Many thanks.

She adds that she would like to know if there are any Maslens/Maslins buried in St. Andrews church graveyard.

Anne Wiltshire needed help with an address. She wrote:

In the 1980s my Australian family received legacies from a Ms Wiltshire in Wanborough who was the daughter of a Kington St Michael family member.

Her address was given on two probate related documents. The addresses are as listed below and where they are from is also noted. There is a variation and I am not sure which one is correct.

Newspaper Ad looking for Australian descendants lists Ms Wiltshire as of:
Lower Farm Hospit, Wanborough, Swindon Wiltshire.

The Probate document for Ms Wiltshire lists her as of:
Downs Farm Hospit Lower Wanborough Wiltshire.

Jim Fisher note:
Unknown farmI have advised that "Hospit" should almost certainly be "Horpit", but I cannot find either farm name on maps of the area. This is a photo believed to be that of the farm concerned (click for a larger image, 194,786 bytes). Can you help to identify it please?


Jim Fisher later note:
Gladys and Peter Paterson, who once lived with Miss Wiltshire at Downs Farm, Horpit, kindly replied and are now in correspondence with Anne. Thanks to them for their help. Andy James has sent detailed directions for finding the farm and the names of the current occupiers. Thanks also to him.

Julie Gibbs writes:

My husband's grandfather was the youngest brother of George Gibbs who died in 1972 and was well known in Wanborough. I believe George's grandfather Edward was born in Wanborough in 1807 to John & Mary. I am trying to find out whether the Gibbs who were living in the village during the 19th cent & in Little Hinton were in relation. I would appreciate in help.

Jim Bradley is seeking further information about the family of Priscilla REEVES. She was baptised in Wanborough on 4th December 1808, parents Joseph and Martha, who also had children John (1796), Ann (1800), Betty (1802), Charles (1804) and Martha (1806) baptised in Wanborough.

Julie Keating is trying to find information about her relative Edwin SMITH.

We have found the parish register entry for his baptism on 31st January 1831, illegitimate son of Eliza SMITH, and of his two cousins Edward (1817) and John (1819), the children of John and Elizabeth. John (the father) was licencee of The Harrow.

Edwin emigrated to Autralia in 1852 but returned to Wanborough (The Marsh) in 1860. The 1871 census shows him as an unmarried farmer of 88 acres, employing a housekeeper, two men and two boys.

Julie would like to know what happened to him, and, of course, the full identity of his mother and anything about her ancestry. It's possibly hoping for too much to identify Edwin's father, but that would be ideal!

Catherine Legg writes:

The 1891 Census gives my great-great grandmother’s birthplace as Wanborough c. 1847. Her child’s birth certificate records her as ‘Frances Tucker, formerly Mulcock’. The IGI has a record of the Christening of a Fanny Mulcock in Wanborough, 1847, but we can find no trace of her actual birth. Parents are given as Harriet Mulcock and Charles Woolford (presumably unmarried we can’t find their marriage.)

The 1851 Census for Wanborough has a Fanny Tucker of the right age living with an uncle, but again we can find no Fanny Mulcock. This woman and her family are a complete mystery; there is no trace of her marriage under any name, despite the two surnames mentioned, or her death. Her eldest son (my great grandfather) changed his surname at his marriage from Tucker to Bright for no apparent reason, and we can’t find his birth either. HELP!

Chris Middleton would like to find out how long the WIRDNAM family lived at Moorleaze Farm and whether they owned it. They were living there at the time of the 1881 census.

Pam Johnstone writes:

I am tracing my family history. My great Grandfather/grandmother came from that area. Names are Frederick Stiles/Styles and Susannah Dunne sometimes without the e. They were both born in Highworth but moved on to Wanborough. They were farmers and moved around a lot, finally settling in Stony Stratford, Bucks.

Can any one help PLEASE.

Ken Kirkman would like to find any information about Ann BOWLES and her illegitimate son Frederick George BOWLES. Frederick George was baptised in Wanborough 25th May 1822, but by 1861 had moved to Weald, near Bampton in Oxfordshire.

Garth Staples of Canada would like to hear from anyone with info on the Browne and Staples of this parish in late 1500's and early 1600's.

Debbi writes:

I am looking for the baptism and parents of Sarah Grubb b 1798 approx who had a base born son Barney (Bartholomew?) in 1824. Her mother's name was Mary b 1765 approx. Sarah married John Poore approx 1830. Any GRUBB researchers out there please?

I also have a genealogy website to help people with their research in the West Country. Free and Friendly as I believe we should all help each other in this never ending story!

Sue Shenton writes:

I'm researching the Lane family who lived at Wanborough in the 19th Century. In 1861 they were living at Hide Farm there, and I wondered if the farm is still there or if anyone knows where in Wanborough it was situated?

Delyn Hunt writes:

I am researching the name Gunter in Wanborough. I am trying to link a Henry Gunter who married an Eliza from Woodford in Gloucestershire. I have them on the 1881 census in Wanborough but have yet to find a marriage to confirm that Eliza was in fact Eliza Ann Webb. Is anyone researching this family?

Stevie writes:

I am seeking info on Edmund Loveday B ABT 1563 Wanborough Wiltshire. He married Elizabeth Smith in 1588 Wanborough and had four children that I know of.

Ana Squire writes:

I am looking for a John Lord and Sarah Warman's families married in 1743 in Wanborough, Wiltshire. I have the Warman family going back to 1597 in Wanborough but have not got back at all with John Lord. I think the family were armigenuous.

Robin McDuffie writes:

I am in the search for my MAY ancestors in Wanborough. Please contact me if you are interested in or have information about this surname. My ancestor is John May b. 1751 Wanborough, married Sarah Stout (widow, possibly nee Smith) in 11 Dec 1788 Wanborough.

Other names related by Wanborough marriage to this family are AVENEL(L), CUTHBERT, HATT and LAWRENCE.

Dawn-Ann Tomlinson writes:

I am tracing my ancesters who came to Wanborough from Aldbourne. 1901 census records my great grandparents as both 43yrs, Elizabeth was a baker with own account, husband Richard J Palmer, journeyman bread baker. Census records them living in Horpit. Can you put me in touch with anyone who may have photos of this period, particularly the house they may have occupied. Are there any parish magazines covering this time. Any info which I can follow up would be helpful.

Jan Green writes:

I am researching my father's family, who were in Wanborough and Chiseldon in the late C18th, and then moved far north to Gloucestershire! Any information on BOURTON would be very helpful.

Lori Hinton writes:

I am a descendant of Sir Thomas Hinton of Wanborough Wiltshire England. Would you have any suggestions of where I might best obtain information on this family member. Sir Hinton was known to be one of the largest occupiers of land in Wanborough around 1565.

They were also equestrian enthusiasts as well from what I've read.

Bill Lawrence writes:

I am researching my family history. My great grandfather HENRY LAWRENCE lived at 1 Rotton Row, Wanborough. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who may have any information on the name LAWRENCE.

I know that Henry Lawrence was born in 1851. He married Lydia Bedwell. I believe they had 9 children, one of which was my grandfather George Ernest born in Wanborough in 1894. I also believe that his father was either Madrick or Meschach Lawrence from Hinton Parva.

Des Thomas writes:

I'm trying to find more information about my 2x great grandfather, John Whiteman, who was born in Wanborough in 1801. He married Jane Pincott, who was born in Wootton Bassett, and had six children. In the 1841 census the family are shown as living in Westerleigh.

I have noticed a reference to this website: http://www.ancestralorigins.com/whiteman/index.html. It shows a John Whiteman b 1808 married to Jane Pincot in 1834 but Australian contacts claim that this John was married to a Mary Edwards and emigrated to Victoria, Australia.

Maddy Duke writes:

I am researching the EDWARDS family in Wanborough and Little Hinton. William EDWARDS married Dorothy EDWARDS on 26 April 1716 in Wanborough and I would be interested to hear from anyone who can help me sort out the earlier history of this family.

Karen George writes:

My husband's grandfather, Arthur Ernest George (known as A.E., b. 1883), came to the U.S. from Wanborough, Wiltshire around 1900. Now we have planned a trip to the U.K. this year, and plan to visit Wanborough around June 30. Arthur's father, Thomas Benjamin George (known as T. Ben, b. 1864) was shown living on Kite Hill in the 1881 census with his father, Jabez George (b. 1829), mother Eliza (Looker, b. 1827) and other family members. Arthur's mother was Caroline Holyoke. From the census, it looks like her people lived in lower town.

A.E. George (b. 1883, d. 1977 in the U.S.) was born in Wanborough. His paternal grandfather was Jabez George (b. 1829, d. 1899). His paternal grandmother was Eliza Looker (b. 1827, d. 1895). According to census information, the family was living on Kite Hill in Wanborough in 1871 and 1881. Jabez George's brother Ezekiel was also living in the household.

A.E.'s father was Thomas Benjamin George (known as T. Ben, b. 1864, d. 1938 in the U.S.)

A.E. had two aunts, T. Ben's two sisters, Mary George and Elizabeth George.

A.E.'s mother was Caroline Holyoke. We have very little information about Caroline Holyoke, except that she died around 1890. T. Ben left for the U.S. soon afterwards. A.E. remained in Wanborough until about 1900, when he also emigrated.

T. Ben's sister Mary George married Richard Kemble. Her children are unknown to us.

T. Ben's sister Elizabeth George married George Smith. They had two children, Gwandaline and Olive. Olive Smith married Bob Goodman and had a daughter named Marlene. I understand that Olive remained in correspondence with A.E. until after WWII.

Calley Arms event I wanted to ask you about a family photo we have showing a group of people dressed like clowns or circus players, gathered around a flowered wagon. One old family member said Grandad was the one dressed like a clown, riding a horse. But nobody knows what the occasion was. Is there a history of a parade or festival in Wanborough at the turn of the last century? Or did the circus come to town and let local young people participate? What stories do the old folks tell about the old days? Is there a wall of old photos in one of the pubs? According to handwriting on the back of this photo, this is Colley Arms, Wanborough, 1895. Different handwriting identifies A.E. as the one on horseback in the striped hat. [Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image]

[Jim Fisher note: Comparison with the current building shows it is the Calley Arms]

Tony Denton writes:

My Great Grandfather on my mothers side lived in Ridgeway Farm Cottage in Stacey's Lane Wanborough in the late 19th century (detailed in the 1891 census). His name was George Archer and he worked as a farm labourer. He lived there with his wife Eliza and at the time, their 3 children, Sidney, Elizabeth and Beatrice. George Archer was born in Wanborough in 1859. He died in 1938.

Sara Windsor-Hides writes:

I am trying to find out about the parents and siblings of my Gt Gr--Ellen Miller, born in Wanborough, Wiltshire 10-06-1855. Birth certif gives mother as Lucy Miller but mentions no father. E.M in 1881 census is with her gr. Jonathan M, Ag. Lab. I know E.M married Richard Clargo from Hinton Parva, and of their children. I would be glad to know where in Wanborough she was brought up, siblings, etc, infact any help.

Laurie Kline writes:

I am researching the New family
Jacob New b abt 1761 married Anne Wheeler in St. Andres Church in 1812; they had several children all baptized in St. Andrews between 1814 and 1828. Anne Wheeler was from Warminster, her parents were James and Rose Wheeler. The family immigrated to Renfrew, Ontario in 1832.

Peter Klein writes:

I'm looking for any information on a "freehold estate" owned by a Robert Warner, gentleman, that was mentioned in his will after his death at Sidmouth on the 3 April 1856. It appears that he may have acquired it by a settlement when he married Ann daughter of a James Fraser at Camberwell in September 1823. It seems very likely therefore that he would have been a landowner mentioned in the Wanborough Tithe Map. If you have any information about its location or size I would be extremely grateful to hear from you. On the death of Robert's widow, the estate devolved upon his son, William Harding Warner,a well-known photographer during the mid 19th-century.


Transcriptions of records

I have produced a transcript of ADAMS baptisms (1582-1837) from the Wanborough parish register and bishop's transcripts, abstracted from that published by Wilts FHS.

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Genealogy and Wiltshire, England

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